When fall is upon us and temperatures drop it’s not uncommon for Absolute Heating & Air to get calls about a burning smell coming from their heater when turning it on for the first time in the season. There a a couple reasons this may happen.
Dust in your system.
This is the most common, especially since so many of our customers live on or around farms and harvest makes everything dusty. Even if you don’t live in a particularly dusty area, after sitting idle during our long stretches of warm weather here in the valley your heating system may have accumulated a layer of dust. When you turn your heat on for the first time, that dust will burn off and emit an odor which circulates through your duct system into your home. This smell will dissipate as the dust is burned off and is usually no reason for concern. If it lasts for more that a few days though, you may want to have us come out and check it out.
Activating heat strips.
If you have a heat pump you more than likely have some sort of electrical backup in your system. A heat pump is designed to not use this electrical option unless temperatures are unusually low and will only kick in when needed. So, if you’ve been using your heater for a while and the temperature drops, your heat strips probably started and the dust is burning off of them, which again should only last a day or so.
Should you continue to notice a burning smell beyond the initial use of your heater this season, you may have faulty heating components, debris or other objects in or around your heating system, or possibly an electrical short. In this case it would be wise to have an expert come and take a look.
What you can do.
Regularly scheduled maintenances are a great way to head off potential problems. During a heating maintenance we not only check all of your heating components we also turn the heat on and make sure it’s working well. During this time, if it is the first time the heat has been turned on for the season, the technician should be able to determine that the smell is dust or maybe something else.
If you are concerned about odors in your HVAC system, we’ll by happy to come out and take a look at it for you!